The United Nations migration agency on Thursday said that at least 140 people have drowned after a vessel carrying around 200 migrants sank off the coast of Senegal, reported CGTN Africa.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the boat, which was destined for the Canary Islands, caught fire shortly after departure from the coastal town of Mbour and capsized near Saint-Louis, on Senegal’s northwest coast.
The agency described Saturday’s incident as the deadliest shipwreck recorded this year. 59 people were rescued and remains of 20 other people were retrieved.
“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is deeply saddened by this recent tragedy, which follows four shipwrecks recorded in the Central Mediterranean last week and another in the English Channel,” the IOM said in a statement.
Officials from the IOM and the Senegal government are on the way to Saint-Louis to assess the needs of survivors and provide immediate psychosocial assistance.
The migration agency said the incident followed four other shipwrecks recorded in the Central Mediterranean last week and another in the English Channel. It added that in September alone, 26% of the 14 boats carrying 663 migrants that left the West African country for the Canary Islands were reported to have experienced an incident or shipwreck.
There have been about 11,000 arrivals to the Canary Islands in 2020 compared to 2,557 arrivals during the same period in 2019. At least 414 people are reported to have died along this route so far in 2020, the IOM said, compared to 210 in the whole of 2019.
IOM’s Senegal Chief of Mission Bakary Doumbia urged governments, partners, and the international community to come together to break up trafficking and smuggling networks.
“It is also important that we advocate for enhanced legal channels to undermine the traffickers’ business model and prevent loss of life,” he added.